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Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
Smarter than a Fifth Grader small.png
Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? title card.
Format Game show
Created by Mark Burnett
Directed by Don Weiner
Presented by Jeff Foxworthy
Theme music composer David Vanacore with
Blessed Kateri Children's Choir
Country of origin  United States
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 86
Production
Executive producer(s) Mark Burnett
Roy Bank
Barry Poznick
John Stevens
Running time approx. 44 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel Fox
Original run February 27, 2007 – September 18, 2009
External links
Official website

Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? is an American quiz game show on Fox. It is produced by Mark Burnett[1] and is hosted by Jeff Foxworthy. The show premiered as a three-day special which began on February 27, 2007 with the first two shows each a half-hour in length. Regular one-hour episodes began airing Thursdays from March 1 through May 10,[2] and the first season continued with new episodes beginning May 31. Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? was picked up for the 2007–2008 season,[3] which began on September 6, 2007, and aired in the same timeslot.[4] A syndicated version of the show began airing in September 2009, with Foxworthy as host.[5] The show also airs internationally, and the format has been picked up for local versions in a number of other countries. Season 3 began on September 5, 2008, moving to Friday nights at 8PM ET/PT, followed by Don't Forget the Lyrics!. The final episode aired on September 18, 2009.

5th Grader games are played by a single contestant, who attempts to answer ten questions (plus a final bonus question). Content is taken from elementary school textbooks, two from each grade level from first to fifth. Each correct answer increases the amount of money the player banks; a maximum cash prize of US$1,000,000 can be won. Along the way, the player can be assisted by a "classmate", one of five school-age cast members, in answering the questions. Notably, upon getting an answer incorrect or deciding to prematurely end the game, the contestant must state that they are not smarter than a 5th grader.

Two people have won the $1,000,000 prize: Kathy Cox, superintendent of public schools for the U.S. state of Georgia; and George Smoot, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Contents

Production

Development

The concept that became the show had been a regular bit on The Howard Stern Show for a number of years. In November 2006 it was pitched as "Do You Remember Grade School?"[6] by Burnett and Zoo Productions to network executives in the form of a six-question quiz; the only network president who was able to win on the quiz was Fox's Peter Liguori.[7] On January 31, 2007, Fox announced that they had picked up the show for an initial six-episode run,[8] and on February 9 Foxworthy was announced as host.[9] Less than eight weeks after being pitched, the first episode aired.[6]

Syndicated version

A half-hour daily syndicated version of the show, also with Foxworthy as host, began airing on September 21, 2009. This version features a top prize of $250,000 and a tweaked format between the primetime version and the daytime version.

The main difference between the versions is, in the nighttime show, the contestant selects questions to progress up the scale; in the daytime show, each question has a specified money amount. 1st grade questions are worth $500; 2nd grade questions are $1,000; 3rd grade questions are $2,500; 4th grade questions are $3,500; and 5th grade questions are valued at $5,000, for a total possible purse of $25,000.

Contestants may still select the questions in any order they choose. Their pot builds for a correct answer, or if they are "saved" following a wrong answer. If they miss the question and the classmate does not "save" them, their total drops to zero. If the contestant finishes all 10 questions and has earned any money, they are shown the subject of the Bonus Question, which is similar to the Million Dollar Question on the hour-long show, and is handled according to the same rules, except that the contestant's winnings are multiplied by ten if they are right.

Set design

The show is filmed in front of a live studio audience, who are arranged in two levels around a rectangular area. One portion of this audience seating is raised above two walls of the main set, with the other situated behind the area where contestants and the host stand.

The main area of the set is originally walled off. As the title sequence plays, two of the walls, designed to appear as hallways, slide away to reveal the main set, modeled after a traditional elementary school classroom, and the children emerge, running through a small hallway containing cubbyholes into which they throw their backpacks. They are then each seated at their respective desks, each marked with a nameplate, atop a raised platform. Beside this platform are two lecterns, one for the contestant (who also emerges from the hallway after being introduced), and the other for his or her "classmate." The lecterns are designed to resemble traditional classroom desks, but have translucent lighted panels and LCD displays mounted on front.

The classroom area also contains two large rear projection screens, which are used to display the list of questions, the current question and the contestant's progress in the game; these screens generally use green backgrounds and white text, reminiscent of a chalkboard, but are also used to display still photographs or video clips of the contestant as a grade-schooler. Another rear projection screen, situated in the audience area, is positioned to appear just over the contestant's shoulder to show the contestant and current question.

The set also contains other miscellaneous props, similar to items that would be found in a classroom; for instance, bookshelves full of books, different plants, a globe, and a teacher's desk are visible. Atop the desk is a fishbowl containing two goldfish, named Darnell and Mike,[10] a presumed reference to Mike Darnell, executive vice president of alternative programming at Fox.

Casting

Each season, a new group of children are cast to appear as the "classmates" on the show.[11] Any child cast must be "smart, funny, and outgoing", and must actually be in grade 5 (age 9, 10 or 11) during the television season.[11]

Contestants who make it through the auditioning process are required to sign a one-year contract stating that they will not tell anybody how much money they make, and that they will not release any information about the actual auditioning process, such as the number of screenings, the questions asked by the auditioners, and the actual criteria for being accepted onto the show. However, most of the children are already well established actors.

During every classmate's final appearance on the show (Graduation Night), each classmate receives a $25,000 savings bond.

Season 1's class (February 2007-August 2007)

Seat # Classmate
1 Laura Marano
2 Kyle Collier
3 Jacob Hays
4 Alana Etheridge
5 Spencer Martin
Fill-In Marki Ann Meyer1

*Note 1: Meyer replaced Marano half-way through the season.

Season 2's class (September 2007-August 2008)

Seat # Classmate
1 Cody Lee
2 Mackenzie Holmes
3 Sierra McCormick
4 Nathan Lazarus
5 Olivia Glowacki
Fill-In Chandler Chaffee1
Mystery Desk Brody Lee

*Note 1: Chaffee subbed Glowacki for two episodes.

Season 3's class (September 2008–present)

Seat # Classmate
1 Jonathan Cummings
2 Jenna Balk
3 Olivia Dellums
4 Bryce Cass
5 Francesca DeRosa
Fill-In Kassidy Yeung1

*Note 1: Yeung filled in for Dellums in one episode.

Celebrity Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

Occasionally, celebrities will be asked to play for charity on the show. The following celebrities have all appeared on the show to win money for charity, with the exception of former Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings and Nobel Prize winner George Smoot, both of whom were playing on their own behalf. Jennings's stint on the show, where he won $500,000 and passed on the opportunity to play for the million, helped propel him back into the lead for the most money won on game shows by one person in the United States.

Season 2

Celebrity Amount Won
Clay Aiken $300,000
Regis Philbin $175,000
Tony Hawk $175,000
Billy Bush $25,000
Lauren Nelson $175,000
Kellie Pickler $50,000

Season 3

Celebrity Amount Won
Kathy Ireland $25,000
Ken Jennings $500,000
Deborah Norville $100,000
Rick Fox $25,000
Gene Simmons $500,000
Jennie Garth $100,000
Joey Chestnut $300,000
Larry the Cable Guy $300,000
Star Jones $175,000
Jack Hanna $25,000
Sugar Ray Leonard $100,000
Bill Goldberg $175,000
Dean Cain $300,000
Bethany Hamilton $50,000
George Smoot $1,000,000

Gameplay

Question
No.
Correct Answer
Value
1 $1,000
2 $2,000
3 $5,000
4 $10,000
5 $25,000
6 $50,000
7 $100,000
8 $175,000
9 $300,000
10 $500,000
11 $1,000,000
1st Subject 2nd Subject
Million Dollar Question
5th Grade 5th Grade
4th Grade 4th Grade
3rd Grade 3rd Grade
2nd Grade 2nd Grade
1st Grade 1st Grade

In each game, the contestant (an adult) is asked a series of eleven questions, spanning ten subjects (such as Gym, Spelling or Art) taken from textbooks for first through fifth grade students. Each question is associated with a grade level; there are two questions per grade, from first to fifth. The player can answer the questions in any order, and each correct answer (with their podium turning green) raises their cumulative amount of winnings to the next level (see table at right); after answering the fifth question correctly, they are guaranteed to leave with at least $25,000. If the player correctly answers the first ten questions, they are given the opportunity to answer a fifth-grade bonus question worth $1,000,000.

Five fifth graders (some of whom are also professional child actors[12]) appear on each show and play along on stage – in general, each episode in a season has the same cast of children. Prior to the show, the children are provided with workbooks which contain a variety of material, some of which could be used in the questions asked in the game.[13][14] The player chooses one to be their "classmate", who stands at the adjacent podium and is called upon for assistance in choosing a subject; the other four sit at desks off to the side. Each child acts as the classmate for at most two questions (done consecutively), after which another child is picked from those who have not yet played in that game.

Contestants have three forms of answer-assistance options (two cheats and a save), each available for use once per game (up to, but not including, the million dollar subject[15]):

  • Peek: The player is shown their classmate's answer and may choose whether to go along with it or not, however, they must answer the question upon using this cheat. In the second season, the podium turns yellow rather than red when a contestant decided to use the Peek. Now, the podium for locked in answers is blue.
  • Copy: The player is locked into using their classmate's answer, without being able to see it first.
  • Save: If the player answers incorrectly but their classmate is correct, they are credited with a correct answer. This is used automatically on the contestant's first incorrect response.

Once all three forms of assistance are used, the children no longer play an active role in the game. However, they do provide secret answers to be used for dramatic effect.

The rules change slightly for the million dollar subject. The player is only shown the subject of the question before deciding if they will continue or drop out. However, if they choose to see the question, they are no longer eligible to drop out and must answer the question, with no assistance from the classmates and any remaining cheats are gone. A wrong answer on the question will cause the contestant to drop back down to $25,000.[15]

If the contestant gets an answer wrong (and is not saved, which in this case the podium turns red), they flunk out, and lose all of their winnings (or drop to $25,000, if they had surpassed the fifth question). As well, they may choose to drop out at any point during the game, which entitles them to leave the game with any winnings they have accumulated.

If at any point during the game the player drops out or flunks out, they must face the camera, state their name, and declare "I am not smarter than a 5th grader." However, if the contestant wins the million, they will have the opportunity to declare to the camera "I am smarter than a fifth grader!"

"Classroom Club" questions were introduced into the game at the beginning of the second season. These are chosen from questions written by elementary school students, submitted via the show's Web site. When one is used, the school of the student who wrote it receives a computer lab, courtesy of the show. "Field Trip" questions, introduced in the third season, feature a video clip of a National Geographic Channel correspondent asking the question from an appropriate location somewhere in the world.

References

  1. ^ Ward, Julia (2006-12-14). "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?". TV Squad. http://www.tvsquad.com/2006/12/14/are-you-smarter-than-a-5th-grader.  
  2. ^ Fox Broadcasting Company (2007-03-15). ""Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?" gets extra credit with 13 additional episodes". Press release. http://www.thefutoncritic.com/news.aspx?date=03/15/07&id=20070315fox03.   Via The Futon Critic.
  3. ^ Fox Broadcasting Company (2007-05-17). "Fox announces primetime slate for 2007–2008 season". Press release. http://www.thefutoncritic.com/news.aspx?id=20070517fox04.   Via The Futon Critic.
  4. ^ Fox Broadcasting Company (2007-08-01). "Class is in session twice a week when "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" airs on Thursdays and Fridays for four weeks this fall". Press release. http://www.thefutoncritic.com/news.aspx?id=20070801fox02. Retrieved 2007-09-06.   Via The Futon Critic.
  5. ^ Pursell, Chris (2008-09-11). "Foxworthy Signs on for Syndie '5th Grader'". TVWeek. http://www.tvweek.com/news/2008/09/foxworthy_signs_on_for_syndie.php. Retrieved 2008-09-12.  
  6. ^ a b Bauder, David (2007-03-16). "Kids Outsmart Adults on '5th Grader'". Associated Press. http://www.comcast.net/tv/index.jsp?cat=TELEVISION&fn=/2007/03/16/612365.html. Retrieved 2007-03-18.  
  7. ^ Boedeker, Hal (2007-01-31). "Fox asks: Are you smarter than a fifth-grader?". Orlando Sentinel. http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/entertainment_tv_tvblog/2007/01/fox_asks_are_yo.html.  
  8. ^ "Fox Develops 'Smarter' Thursday Plan". Zap2it. 2007-01-31. http://www.zap2it.com/tv/news/zap-smartherthan5thgraderpremiere,0,2918677.story. Retrieved 2007-04-13.  
  9. ^ "Foxworthy Proves FOX-Worthy Host". Zap2it. 2007-02-09. http://www.zap2it.com/tv/news/zap-foxworthyfifthgraderhost,0,7364706.story. Retrieved 2007-04-13.  
  10. ^ "Host Jeff Foxworthy on the answering side of some questions." (Flash Video). Are You Smarter... Clips. Fox Broadcasting Company. http://www.fox.com/video/index.htm?cat_id=smarter&clip_id=smarter_foxworthy_hi. Retrieved 2007-03-24.   The video starts with a shot of the fishbowl, showing the fishes' names written on a piece of tape on the fishbowl.
  11. ^ a b ""Calling All Parents of Awesome 4th Graders!"". Fox Broadcasting Company. http://fox.com/areyousmarter/showinfo/casting.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-11.  
  12. ^ Elfman, Doug (2007-03-08). "Smart kids caught in the act on '5th Grader'". Chicago Sun-Times. http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/elfman/288061,CST-FTR-elf08.article.  
  13. ^ During the credits at the end of the show, a disclaimer states: "Members of the class were provided with workbooks that covered grade school level material in a variety of subjects. Some of the material could have formed the basis of questions used by producers in the show."
  14. ^ Farhi, Paul (2007-03-13). "Easy Does It". Washington Post. p. C01. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/12/AR2007031201674.html. Retrieved 2007-03-15.  
  15. ^ a b "Episode AYS-109". Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader. Fox Broadcasting Company. 2007-04-19. No. 09, season 1.

External links








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